SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

 June 10, 2014, Washington, DC – A federal appeals court today dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by six men formerly held at Guantánamo who were wrongly detained and abused while at the prison. The suit, one of the last remaining Guantánamo damages suits, was brought against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military officials for the torture, religious abuse and other mistreatment of plaintiffs.

In dismissing their claims, the D.C. Circuit stated that the torture and religious humiliation these men endured—even after being cleared for release by the military—were incidental to the “need to maintain an orderly detention environment,” “appear[ed] to be standard for all” U.S. military detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and “was certainly foreseeable [by the government] because maintaining peace, security, and safety at a place like Guantanamo Bay is a stern and difficult business.”

The Daily Beast ran a profile of an accused rapist to demonstrate the "complexity" of rape charges, perpetuating the myth that these cases are more complicated than simple consent given/consent withdrawn. They are not.

Though George Will's June 9th column in the Washington Post took the prize for "Best Mainstream Contribution to Rape Culture-Media," it meant that another piece that demonstrated equal disregard for victims managed to fly under the radar. The day prior, The Daily Beast published a piece titled, "Exclusive: Brown University Student Speaks Out on What It's Like to Be Accused of Rape." It is approximately 3500 words on the never-before-heard story that when rape allegations are made, the alleged rapist and the alleged rape victims say that different things happened.

Larry Summers is well on his way to rehabilitating his public image as a brilliant intellectual, moving on from his checkered record as president of Harvard University and as President Obama’s chief economic adviser during the first years of the administration. Unfortunately, he can’t resist taking on his critics—and he can’t do it without letting his debating instincts take over.

I was reading his review of House of Debt by Mian and Sufi. Everything seemed reasonable until I got to this passage justifying the steps taken to bail out the financial system:

“The government got back substantially more money than it invested. All of the senior executives who created these big messes were out of their jobs within a year. And stockholders lost 90 per cent or more of their investments in all the institutions that required special treatment by the government.”

Washington, DC - A Minnesota activist is once again facing the heat for his parody merchandise. Today, in response to a demand from a representative at the "Ready for Hillary" PAC to take down a parody design, Public Citizen sent a letter (PDF) stating that activist Dan McCall's merchandise does not violate any intellectual property rights and is fully protected by the First Amendment.

The PAC sent notices to and – two online merchants – demanding they remove McCall's design that pokes fun at the PAC's slogan. McCall's design, which was being sold on T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers and more, altered the slogan "I'm Ready for Hillary," to "I'm Ready for Oligarchy."

Jun 10

Who Can We Shoot?

By Dr. Gus Bagakis, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The above question came from Muley, a tenant farmer in "The Grapes of Wrath," who reacted to a caterpillar tractor operator who was under orders to evict him, and demolish the home where his family farmed for three generations. The driver said he was just following orders, if Muley shot him another man would replace him. Muley then said: "But where does it stop? Who can we shoot? I don't aim to starve to death before I kill the man that's starving me." The driver responds: "I don't know. Maybe there's nobody to shoot. Maybe the thing isn't men at all. Maybe like you said, the property's doing it."

I am sympathetic to Muley's frustration, because of the anger that comes up after my daily monitoring of progressive and left-leaning blogs, websites, and radio programs about political events and the negative influence of capitalism on working people. As a member of the working class who has been manipulated and exploited throughout my work life, I believe I have good reason to be pissed off at them (whoever they are and wherever they live). But I try get over that need for vengeance when I see how these thoughts and feelings are misplaced, while they also raise my blood pressure and are psychologically and socially damaging, making me angry and unapproachable some of the time. After some reflection, I've come to recognize that I needed to look into the reasons why I'm in this frustrating fix. One of my solutions was to try to understand the underlying structure that brought this on, which I've come to identify as the historically shifting system of capitalism, through its relentless squandering of the lives of workers and ruining the earth in its search for profits through growth. So it's not "who do we shoot?" but rather, what is responsible? It's not a person but a system.

Jun 10

Scapegoating Another American Veteran

By Camillo Mac Bica, Veterans Today | Op-Ed

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is home after five years of captivity. I know it's difficult for those who would like to scapegoat another veteran (just last week it was General Shinseki), this time as a political diversion for their culpability in initiating, supporting, and/or ignoring an illegal war in Iraq, and a futile, misguided 13 year travesty in Afghanistan that cost thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi lives, to appreciate or celebrate his liberation.

Though I pledged to friends and relatives who suffered through my many rants that I would no longer comment on this disgraceful train of events, I am compelled to offer one final tirade of scattered observations and thoughts.

Interview Excerpt:

On the list of donors for the "Peace Event" also USAID, a U.S. Agency for International Development, can be found besides ministries. Are these the right funders?

We receive funding from several governments, Finnish and French and through the German embassy also from the Federal government. For us, this is a good use of taxpayers' money. And we welcome it - in the sense of the Basic Law -, that the Federal government was willing to finance an event, on which's contents it didn't have any influence. The question remains: Is most of the money of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation not also government money?

The first sentence in Steve Taylor's book, The Fall (1), reads "For the last 6,000 years, human beings have been suffering from a kind of collective psychosis. For almost all of recorded history human beings have been – at least to some degree – insane."

Through much of recorded history, it has been accepted as normal that, periodically, large groups of men should meet and hack each other to pieces. This was the method of choice for resolving disputes. In the last few hundred years, with the aid of science, our capacity for killing other members of our species has been accelerating way. It has now reached an apogee. We are at the end of the process. We can now, in a few hours, incinerate every human being in existence. What an accomplishment! What an epitaph! We have two thousand nuclear weapons held on hair trigger alert, already mounted on board their missiles and ready to be launched at a moment's notice. This could happen at any time; perhaps when one of the nine nuclear states elects the ultimate psychopathic and/or narcissistic individual as their leader – one who believes that a first strike will enable him to win a nuclear war and rule gloriously thereafter.

Jun 08

Protest Outside White House to Free the Cuban Five

By Samantha Sarra, SpeakOut | Report

Hundreds gathered outside the White House Saturday to demand the immediate release of the remaining Cuban Five who have been held in US prisons for more than 16 years. The protesters descended on Washington DC from all over the world to stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and to asked President Obama to release the Cuban heroes who were wrongly imprisoned for defending themselves and trying to protect Cuba from US backed terrorism against their homeland. Chanting for justice and freedom, the protesters marched from the White House to the Department of Justice for the 3rd annual Five Days for the Cuban Five.

Phoenix, Arizona - After years of hard-fought efforts a coalition of patients, medical professionals, and advocates succeeded in demonstrating the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case. The Arizona Dept. of Health has denied all petitions submitted previously.

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014 Judge Thomas Shedden issued his ruling saying that "a preponderance of evidence shows medical marijuana provides palliative benefit to those suffering from PTSD." The decision is now in the hands of Will Humble, Director of Arizona Dept. of Health Services; Humble has until July 9th, 2014 to accept or appeal Judge Shedden's decision.